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The Grand Rapids Press has an interesting piece comparing the supercenters built by Wal-Mart and Meijer, which, ironically, pioneered the concept that has been exploited by Wal-Mart. The focus of this particular article is that Meijer is running into some of the same problems as Wal-Mart in terms of resistance to its expansion plans – it has 171 stores, plans to open as many as 10 more this year, but some consumers are upset about specific locations.

This is one of those rare times in the media when Wal-Mart actually seems to be portrayed with greater sympathy than its competition.

"Ninety percent of the time, we are able to address (neighborhood) concerns," Scott Nowakowski, Meijer's director of real estate, tells the Press. "We are fortunate that Meijer has a wonderful reputation in the markets where we have stores, and we don't receive the negativity anywhere close to what Wal-Mart receives."

But Wal-Mart spokesman Roderick Scott tells the paper that Wal-Mart builds its stores to fit a community and that a lot of its problems are a result of disinformation programs incited by its competition and organized labor. "When Sam Walton started this company he was (focused) on the business, and we were not into the public relations and all the good things Wal-Mart does there," Scott tells the Press. "That was a mistake we're now trying to rectify."

And the paper suggests that when Wal-Mart finds a location inappropriate for a supercenter, it will then consider other formats, like a Neighborhood Market, for that space.
KC's View:
Well, there might be a few people who would describe Wal-Mart as being less altruistic than that.

But it actually is sort of refreshing to see a story that puts the supercenter craze in a broader context, suggesting that it isn’t only the Wal-Mart version that can meet community resistance.

The broader message ought to be that everyone else ought to let the behemoths battle it out, and while they are doing so, find other ways to create a compelling, irresistible shopping experience.

Because to try and do battle on their terms would be akin to getting into a ring with two bulls while wearing nothing but a red cape.